Hamas or Assad?

Take this comment, by John Wight, from Socialist Unity:

Liam: The starting point for looking at what’s happening in Syria should be how we support a popular movement to overthrow a murderous dictatorship.

You mean foreign backed jihadists with a propensity for beheading and slaughtering ‘apostates’ on a grand scale?

Liam: The studied neutrality of much of the left on this issue has contributed in a small way to the growth of the reactionary currents in the movement against the regime.

Who’s neutral? I’m with Assad and the Syrian people against a Saudi and Qatari armed insurgency, supported by the West, comprising religious zealots and obscurantists engaged in barbarism.

It is a cheap shot: but it is precisely expressions such as this – in the context of jihadist groups in Iraq or Hamas and its allies in Gaza – which are condemned as the vilest Islamophobia, and result in deletions and bans from Socialist Unity.

John Wight is, of course, an activist in the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: an even more extreme version of its English counterpart. This is his position on Hamas:

As for Hamas, I support them in their resistance to ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and the murder of men, women, and children completely. As to their political programme, this is another matter. However, as someone who believes implicity in the laws of physics, among which is that of cause and effect, I hold to the view that Hamas constitues a symptom and not a cause of the conflict in that part of the world. Oppression breeds resistance. As to the nature of that resistance, this is largely governed by conjunctural historical factors.

If the following report is correct, then John Wight is now an opponent of Hamas. Hamas, we discover, is training anti-Assad fighters in Syria:

The military wing of Hamas, a former ally of President Assad, is training the rebel Free Syrian Army in eastern Damascus. Diplomatic sources said that members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades were training FSA units in the rebel-held neighbourhoods of Yalda, Jaramana and Babbila.

The development appears to confirm that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, has made a final break with its former Syrian host and fully embraced the patronage of Qatar, the small but influential Gulf state that is a major financial and logistical backer of some rebel factions.

“Hamas or Assad”  is actually a very good litmus test for the “anti-war”/”anti-imperialist” crowd to see where their priorities really lie. The side of the “Palestinian resistance”, come what may (anything goes as long as it’s good for the Palestinians): or the “anti-imperialist” side (anything goes as long as it is against the West/Israel). Although little commented on, this is the fault line that runs through the Stop the War Coalition; the Communists (who are largely pro-Assad) and the Islamists (who are overwhelmingly against his regime) cannot work together.

Up until now, Hamas was perfectly aligned with the “anti-imperialist” political agenda. They did not question Hamas because they never had a reason to – it was mostly focused on killing Israelis, and they’re fine with that.

But when it come to the moment of choice, do they support the side which is more “anti-imperialist” (and anti-Israel) or support the side which is more “pro-Palestinian”. And when push comes to shove, do all those “anti-war”/”Palestinian Solidary”/BDS people hate the West/Israel more than they love the Palestinians?

An easy question to answer, really.